How Society Impacts Men’s Mental Health

It’s an unfortunate truth that men and women are raised with different societal expectations when it comes to mental health. The effects of this have traditionally been negative for men, who experience a wealth of mental health challenges due to repressed emotions. Here, we explore how society impacts mental health for men and give options for how to pave a healthier path forward.

What Society Teaches Men

From a young age, society inundates men with specific expectations and stereotypes. Traditional masculinity encourages emotional stoicism, toughness, and self-reliance. Boys often hear phrases like “man up” or “boys don’t cry,” which condition them to suppress their emotions.

The media further propagates these ideals through movies, advertisements, and even role models who portray men as emotionally resilient and physically dominant. While these attributes can sometimes be advantageous, they also establish a narrow, restrictive framework for what it means to be a “real man.”

The Impact of These Teachings on Male Mental Health

The societal norms surrounding masculinity have far-reaching impacts that go beyond limiting gender expression. When men internalize these teachings, they can feel immense pressure to conform, even at the expense of their well-being. This could mean idolizing exclusively male figures in their lives, feeling disconnected from women and traditionally “female traits,” and not expressing or managing emotions as they come up. Eventually, bottled-up feelings can become overwhelming, leading to lash-outs or mental health concerns. Depression and anxiety are real risks, and these mood disorders are often connected.

Furthermore, the fear of appearing weak or vulnerable leads many men to suffer in silence, avoiding seeking help for mental health issues like depression or anxiety. Consequently, this emotional suppression can result in higher rates of substance abuse, aggression, and even suicide.

Ultimately, these unintended consequences of how society impacts mental health for men aren’t personal issues; they’re public concerns that demand our collective attention.

How To Improve Male Mental Health

Rewriting the narrative on masculinity requires both individual and collective action.

What Society Can Do

Firstly, everyone should strive to encourage open emotional expression without fear of judgment. After all, the stigma surrounding mental health is present for all genders. Normalizing conversations about mental health can break down the barriers that prevent many men and anyone else from seeking help.

Secondly, families and schools can teach boys that emotional vulnerability is a sign of strength, not weakness. In a similar vein, communities and organizations can create support systems where men feel safe to share their struggles.

What Men Can Do

Though men who struggle with their emotions are the result of repressive societal norms, they also have the power to seek healing for themselves. Here are some actionable steps men can take to break free from restrictive expectations and improve their overall well-being:

Invest in Self-Care

There are tremendous benefits to a little self-pampering, but men are less likely to have or regularly invest in self-care practices such as the 7 Minutes 2 Bliss breathing method. Dedicating time to hobbies, investing in a beauty routine, and practicing mindfulness are all healing self-care options.

Stay Active

Regular exercise can improve mood and reduce stress levels because physical and mental health go hand in hand. By staying on top of physical health, men can consequently support their mental well-being and regulation.

Have Vulnerable Conversations

Given safe spaces for vulnerability, men should try to have open conversations with trusted friends and family about their relationship with mental health. This deepens connections and helps loved ones be better supporters.

Try Therapy

A traditional view of masculinity would shy away from seeking help for potentially harmful mental conditions, so seeking therapy can be an act of resistance. Therapy offers massive mental health benefits and provides a safe, professional outlet for big or worrisome feelings.

Overall, it’s important to note that things are improving. Across the world, there is a growing understanding of how society impacts mental health for men. Additionally, there is more awareness surrounding the steps we can take to improve the ways that this has been harmful to men and society as a whole.

As this collective work plays out, men who feel negatively impacted by society’s teachings can pursue avenues for support and healing.

Jennifer Dawson

Jennifer Dawson is an experienced freelance writer who specializes in food and nutrition. Working in fitness marketing previously gave her a good feel for the industry and since going freelance she has been able to explore her preferred topic areas such as diet types, nutrition and food. Outside of work, Jen enjoys traveling, swimming and spending time with her young family.

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